[Editorial] Shifting Focus, Paying Tribute
by The Milton Measure on Friday, May 22nd, 2015
On Friday May 15th at 3:30 pm, a federal jury in Boston unanimously voted to impose the death penalty on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for his participation in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Although Massachusetts outlawed the death penalty in 1984, federal law still allows the imposition of a death sentence for certain terrorism-related crimes, including those for which Tsarnaev was found guilty. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Dzhokhar’s older brother, was killed in the manhunt that led to the younger brother’s arrest. During the trial, the defense argued against the death penalty on the grounds that Dzhokhar’s brother was the true mastermind behind the plot. Regardless of our personal beliefs surrounding the death penalty, we as a board feel that the bomber does not deserve the extensive publicity the media has given him. While The Measure may continue to publish articles concerning the bombing victims and the city of Boston, after this editorial the CXXI board will no longer cover stories focused on Tsarnaev.
Parallels can be drawn between the Boston Marathon bombing and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed more than 160 people. In Oklahoma, the two men, both responsible for the attack, did not receive the same punishment. Timothy McVeigh was sentenced to death, while his partner, Terry Nichols, received a life sentence. Locked away in a maximum security prison, Nichols quickly faded from the public eye. In contrast, McVeigh’s death sentence was followed by many lengthy and complex appeals. Even today, more than twelve years after his execution, McVeigh remains a household name directly associated with the attack. Had Tsarnaev been given a life sentence, he would likely have suffered a similar fate as Nichols. However, because of the death sentence he received, Tsarnaev’s name, like McVeigh’s, may live on in infamy.
The parents of Martin Richards, the 8-year-old boy who died in the marathon bombing, surprised many by arguing that Tsarnaev should not receive the death penalty. The Richards wrote, “we know that the government has its reasons for seeking the death penalty, but the continued pursuit of that punishment could bring years of appeals and prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives.” It is with these words in mind that we urge the community to remove Tsarnaev from the spotlight.
The fairness of the jury’s decision will forever be debated. The appeals that will inevitably follow will bring media attention along with them. David Bruck, part of Tsarnaev’s defense team, argues that “no punishment could ever be equal to the terrible effects of this crime on the survivors and the victims’ families.” Whether or not Tsarnaev is ultimately executed, we should redirect any and all attention away from the bomber and his crimes and instead focus on the victims and their ongoing recovery. We must deny him any sort of martyr status and any kind of notorious immortality.
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